Outline: from the view of the number of lessons at public schools, there are not enough English lessons for students to be English speakers. As a result, public high schools in Japan can’t make students to be English speakers.
When Japanese students start to study English?
In Japan, English education starts from junior high school. For 3 years in junior high school life, students gradually start to study English grammar and their English ability is valued from junior high school lessons. This time excludes English education at elementary school.
(In fact, students start to study English from elementary schools, but there are huge English ability gap in each teachers. Therefore, when students enter junior high school, there are huge English ability gap in each student. )
How many lessons can Japanese students take English lessons from until they graduate from their high school?
Junior high school
In the Japanese government curriculum guideline, junior high school students have to take lessons 140 times a year.
For 3 years in junior high school life, students have to take lessons 420 lessons. In Japan, 1 lesson usually spends 50 minutes. In total, junior high school students spend 350 hours for English lesson at school.
140 times × 3 years = 420 times. 420 times × 50 minutes = 21,000 minutes.
21,000 minutes ÷ 60 minutes = 350 hours
Senior high school
In the Japanese government curriculum guideline, there are these lessons below. ( ) shows the times in week.
Basic English communication (2)
English Communication I (3)
English Communication II (4)
English Communication III (4)
English Expression I (2)
English Expression II (4)
English Conversation (2)
Calculation: if students can take all of lessons,
2 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 4 + 2 = 21 lessons. 21 lessons × 35 weeks = 735 lessons.
(The Japanese government curriculum guideline says teachers have to give lessons more than 35 weeks a year)
735 × 50 minutes = 36,750 minutes. 36,750 minutes ÷ 60 minutes =612.5 hours.
In total, 350 + 612.5 = 962.5 hours.
Until students graduate from their high school, students can study 962.5 hours at the maximum at school.
How much time do Japanese have to study to be English speakers?
Many scholars talked about “How much time do Japanese have to study to be English speakers?”. There are many answers, so no one can conclude this question. In many answers, the most well-known answer is Japanese have to spend less than 3,000 hours to be English speakers.
Even if students study English at school lessons, they can’t study more than 1,000 hours. To be English speakers, Japanese need to study English more than 3,000 hours. If English teachers teach with their utmost effort, no students could be English speakers. The most important element to be English speakers is keep studying English by themselves.